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King Crimson - Red CD (album) cover

RED

King Crimson

 

Eclectic Prog

4.52 | 2204 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

RedNightmareKing
4 stars Well... here we are. King Crimson's other magnum opus. Now, KC had traversed many ideas of progressive rock, with their symphonic debut and smooth jazz outings on Lizard and Islands. However, the fabled MkII lineup (the most stable one yet), created a grinding, almost metallic atmosphere. This idea reaches its peak on Red.

The album starts off with a bang. The title track is a simple instrumental, revolving around a riff that has inspired many prog metallers to come. Wetton's bass work is phenomenal, and always seems to be overlooked by Fripp's nasty guitar sound and Bruford's pounding drums. It truly grabs you in, and sends you on a wild journey.

Fallen Angel is my second favorite Crimson song, trailing the fan favorite Starless, which is also on this album. The intro begins as a slow, relaxed ballad with Wetton's famous pipes leading the tune. As the chorus comes in, things get a tad bit heavy. Suddenly, we're back to the ballad! It's truly a strange tune, with lyrics about a Hell's Angels member whose brother has died. Not your typical fare. A blasting cornet line from Keith Tippett's Mark Charig demolishes the last chorus, and the song ends.

The last song to end side one is plodding. It's jazz-metal, really. The angry saxophone lines and Fripp's searing guitar create the terrifying atmosphere of One More Red Nightmare. The lyrics really add to the song, which are about a terror on a red-eye flight. (Twilight Zone, anybody?) Mel Collins truly shines here, and blasts out one heck of a sax solo that would make the late jazz greats King Curtis and John Coltrane seem like 5th grade band students. A wonderful track, and a great side closer.

Side two is a bit of an anomaly. Providence, a live improv piece performed in the city of the same name, opens here. It's a strange atmosphere. David Cross appears on violin here, so we know it's the LTIA/S&BB era Crimson. The sounds are very cool, and Fripp lays out some awesome soundscapes. Then Bruford comes in. What we had as a cool improv piece, completely killed it. Not really a brilliant track. I feel like it's a little unnecessary on such a heavy album like Red, but hey. It's King Crimson.

The album closes with a 12 minute monster. Starless is one of the most hallowed progressive rock songs, and with good reason too. Fripp's melancholy mellotron (see what I did there?) line opens up the song, and Bruford plays a small beat. Wetton's soulful singing brings out the wonderful lyrics about insanity, making them seem more beautiful than ever. After the intro finishes out, Wetton lays down a bassline. It may be a very simple bassline, but man. It's tense. Bruford eventually adds in some drum hits. Fripp brings in a very simple guitar pattern. Bruford starts to get a little crazy. David Cross brings in some screechy violin bits. Suddenly, the song blows up. Ian MacDonald scorches the earth with a brilliant sax solo. The solo ends, and the main theme from the beginning comes in for a little bit with Bruford's quick hi-hat hits accenting it. Heavy guitar notes come in, and we're back to the nasty bassline that came in during the sax solo. The oboe comes in, and signals the song to stop. A very cool plodding bassline by Wetton dominates the end, and the opening mellotron is back. This ending, in my opinion, is one of the most iconic moments in progressive rock history. Period. Actually, scratch that. This entire album, is a cornerstone of the genre. If Providence was left out or cut down a bit (8 minutes is a stretch, don't you think?), I would award this album 5 stars. 4.5 stars should suffice though.

RedNightmareKing | 4/5 |

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